Alcohol and Statins

Alcohol in moderation has been associated with increases in high density lipoproteins (the good cholesterol). Statins are great at lowering LDL (the bad cholesterol) but not so good at raising HDL. Researchers looked at whether statin users who drink in moderation experienced in any additional benefit. As expected, it was found that alcohol use improved the overall cholesterol profile, but the authors of the study concluded that "the clinical implication has to be established." A separate study showed the moderate alcohol consumption did not diminish the effectiveness of lovastatin in men who had undergone bypass surgery. This is not a license to drink. Some people cannot handle alcohol and it may interfere with other drugs, so ask your doctor. Blood tests should be conducted regularly while you take statins (at least once a year) to look for any liver damage caused by the statin alone or in combination with alcohol.

Physiologists and doctors have long thought that moderate alcohol consumption (five to seven drinks a week) might offer some protection from heart attack and stroke. Research has shown that blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in such moderate drinkers are lower than in heavy drinker and people who don't drink. CRP might be a marker (might be) for risk of heart disease. (We hate to use so many caveats, but the scientists aren't totally sure.) Statins are highly effective in lowering total cholesterol and LDL-C but not so much in increasing of HDL-C.

Heavy alcohol use seems to cause patients to forget to take their medicines, but this is not a special case for statins.

Also, be aware of possible interactions between the acid reflux medicine Zantac and alcohol with statins.



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